The decision to be separated from his heavily pregnant girlfriend for eight months is not an easy task for first-time farmworker, Jermaine Wilson.
This is further compounded by the fact that he will not be present for the birth of his first child later this month.
Despite the apprehension, Wilson is reassured by the fact that his absence means he will be entering into a job in Canada and, therefore, will be in a better position to take care of his family back home.
Wilson is among a batch of close to 300 Jamaicans who have taken up employment opportunities in Canada under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Programme (SAWP).
“My girlfriend should have the baby about January 23, and I am not going to be here, but it’s the best for us, so I have to go and do my best and provide for them and see to it that they are alright and all is well,” he said during a send-off ceremony at the Labour Ministry’s Overseas Employment Services Centre, in downtown Kingston recently.
Wilson, who is slated to return to the island when his child will be eight months old, is grateful for the opportunity that has been provided through SAWP.
He says that advancements in technology will allow him to communicate with his family members on a regular basis and that he eagerly awaits photographs of his young child.
Most of the seasonal agricultural workers will be employed in Ontario in areas such as Leamington, Tilsonburg, Bradford, Simcoe, Milton, Strathroy and Goderich. They departed the island on January 3 and 4. The SAWP has steadily provided employment opportunities for Jamaican workers since 1966.
Describing the programme as a “blessing”, experienced worker, Howard Anderson, encourages first-time participants to use their goals and aspirations as reminders of why they are on the programme.
“For the first time, based on experience, it is a mindset. It is going to be challenging for the first time, and sometimes you feel like you want to quit, but just put your mind on the goal and what you plan to achieve. The first week is the challenge, but from you get over the first week, ‘you good’,” he said.
He notes, too, that constant contact with family members will also assist individuals to cope better.